- The varied terrain of the forest provides habitat for a range of wildlife, including threatened and endangered species such as sandhill cranes and green-back cutthroat trout. At Fish Creek Falls, cascading water tumbles 263 feet over sheer rock walls. Most of the mountain areas of the Routt are covered with lodgepole pine, Engelmann spruce, subalpine fir and Douglas-fir, interspersed with large expansions of open "parks" and aspen stands.
Copyright: Zander Higbie - Interactive Outdoors, Inc.
View along Gardner Park Reservoir Interpretive Trail
Portions of four designated wilderness areas on the forest provide miles of trails in pristine natural areas. Hundreds of developed sites including campgrounds and trailheads pervade the National Forest lands. The Steamboat Ski Area, which has worldwide acclaim, lies in the western portion of this forest. Several mountain lakes with developed boating facilities may also be found on the Routt and Medicine Bow.
The North Park area of the Forest (east of Mt. Zirkel) offers some spectacular high park scenery. The area also provides for backcountry access to the Rawah Wilderness (on the Roosevelt National Forest) and the Never Summer Mountains.
The Bear River corridor west of Yampa provides a variety of opportunities, including developed and dispersed camping, horseback riding, fishing (stream and lake), and access into the Flat Tops Wilderness and primitive areas beyond. Wilderness trailheads are located along the corridor road, which means that on a busy day, parking is in short supply.
The southwestern boundary of the Forest is referred to as the Pagoda Peak and Pyramid Peak areas. The Flat Tops Trail Scenic and Historic Byway traverse across this area which is primarily roadless with limited motorized public access.
Recreation - Popular recreation activities on the Forest include downhill and cross-country skiing, developed and dispersed camping, jeeping, sightseeing, hunting, fishing, hiking, boating, snowmobiling, picnicking, biking, horseback riding and backpacking.
Downhill skiing is available in the winter at Steamboat Ski Area on the Hahns Peak Ranger District. Enjoy nordic skiing or snowshoeing in numerous areas, some of the most popular being Rabbit Ears Pass, Dunckley Pass, the Clark and Seedhouse area and the Hahns Peak Lake area. Snowmobile recreation opportunities are available in many national forest locations. The east Rabbit Ears Pass, Dunckley Pass, Gore Pass and Columbine areas are among the most popular.
Climate - Elevations on the forest reach over 12,000 feet. For summer, expect warm days and cool to freezing nights, especially in the high country. The months of July and August are considered the warmest, and most high mountain lakes are free of ice during this period. Much of the Mount Zirkel and Flat Tops Wildernesses remain inaccessible until early or mid-July. Be prepared for both warm and chilly weather. The rainy season lasts from mid-July through August, when afternoon thunderstorms should be expected. The first snow can fly any time from the first of September!
Although the skies are often sunny, winter temperatures can be very cold. The region receives abundant snowfall, which supports the many winter activities found on the district. Average annual snowfall can reach up to 450 inches depending on location and elevation. The Park Range is known to receive some of the heaviest snows in Colorado.
The Medicine Bow National Forest in Wyoming and the Routt National Forest in Colorado were administratively combined in 1990. The information here pertains to the former Routt National Forest.
The Routt is located in northwest Colorado, around the towns of Kremmling, Walden, Yampa, Steamboat Springs and Craig. It includes portions of the Medicine Bow Mountains, the Never Summer Mountains, the Rabbit Ears Range, the northern Gore Range, the Park Range, the Elkhead Mountains and the northern end of the Flat Tops.
The Routt includes 1,125,145 acres of federal land within its boundaries. It now consists of three Ranger Districts: Hahns Peak/Bears Ears in Steamboat Springs, Parks in Walden and Kremmling, Yampa in Yampa, and the Forest Supervisors Office in Laramie, Wyoming, with a Headquarters in Steamboat Springs.